Entrepreneurial Selling

In keeping with the Entrepreneurship theme this week, let’s focus today on entrepreneurial selling – a critical skill for business success for any founder.  In addition to being the idea generator, CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CxO, head cook and bottle washer, the entrepreneur must be the SVP of business development and sales – at least so long as he/she is in startup mode.  Truth told, whether we are running a company, volunteering in the community or tending to our families, we are all always in sales mode.

Today, I had the good fortune to listen to University of Chicago Booth School of Business (my alma mater!) professor and owner of Sales Engine, Craig Wortmann, talk about entrepreneurial sales.  He was visiting Kansas City in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week to participate in Kauffman Founders School Live.  It was fantastic!

Some of Craig’s key points regarding sales were meaningful for entrepreneurs and intentional networkers alike:

In sales…

  • …always, always seek win-win scenarios.
  • …never, ever disparage the competition.
  • …engage in a conversation.
  • …get behind your client’s eyes to see what they see, to feel what they feel.  It doesn’t matter what you see, feel.  You must understand the situation from their point of view.
  • …if your prospect isn’t buying what you are selling, move on!

In networking, the same principles apply.  Remember, sales is a conversation… networking is a conversation, too.  When you begin that conversation, find out what your contact needs, what his/her challenges are.  Determine how you can help.  And, of course, be sure to tell them what you need, too.

Networking – meaningful networking – is about creating mutually beneficial, long-term, bi-directional relationships without having predetermined outcomes in mind.  Whatever it is you are selling – whether selling yourself, selling a product or service, selling a concept or idea – be sure your contact is “buying what you are selling.”  If you have it to offer, be sure to deliver what it is that they need.  You will, no doubt, receive the same in return.

2 thoughts to “Entrepreneurial Selling”

  1. Another great post, Alana. On the topic of selling, I highly recommend Dan Pink’s book To Sell Is Human (http://www.danpink.com/books/to-sell-is-human/). From the website for the book:
    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in nine Americans works in sales. Every day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by persuading someone else to make a purchase.
    But dig deeper and a startling truth emerges:
    Yes, one in nine Americans works in sales. But so do the other eight.
    Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”

    If you are not familiar with Dan, he is an engaging author and speaker . His website describes his 5 books as being “about the changing world of work”.

    1. Great insight, Ken — thank you so much for sharing this great information — very useful. Daniel Pink’s work is excellent and will be very helpful to the CLC community.

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